I just dropped you off at school in your stylish outfit. You bounced down the sidewalk ready to greet the world as always. I even had to shush you at one point because the whole neighborhood didn’t need to hear it was your birthday. I’m sorry for that. I don’t mean to tamper your enthusiasm. I just have to fight my conditioned nature to not make a scene. You? Well, I should allow you to make more scenes.
Today, you wanted to catch up with your friends. You wanted to race ahead. But I asked you to stop. To help. To grab your very sad little brother by the hand and help, please, please, help me, get him inside the building. I’m so near broken that I’m asking the help of my birthday girl. For that I’m sorry too.
You did. You stopped and looked at me and I could tell by your face you wanted to protest. I could tell you wanted nothing to do with us. We’re already on slippery ground because I declared fourth grade the year I stand up to the tide and stop bringing in treats for your birthday. You’re already unsure of me-and whose side I’m on. But, you didn’t argue. You didn’t fight. You barely rolled your eyes. Instead you slowed down, grabbed your brother’s hand and led him right into the building. You were dependable. Just like you have been for ten years.
Ten years ago you were born and rocked my world. You made me question everything I was doing and think more about each individual decision than I ever had before. It was exhausting. But you were so rewarding with your predictable smiles and your endless chatter. Even as an infant, you were vocal. Even as an infant you were excellent company.
Now, here you are, on the cusp of leaving me. Zero-teen you call yourself. Those years can’t get here soon enough for you and they couldn’t terrify me more. I still think all the time about what’s best for you. You may not see it because I seem preoccupied with the boys, but I really do spend inordinate amounts of time worrying and wondering and planning and plotting how to do my best by you. The Boys are challenging, but you? Raising you well, giving you what’s good and keeping you away from my crazy? THAT is what consumes me.
You could be obnoxious. You aren’t. You could be sassy. You aren’t. You could be challenging me at every turn. You don’t. Instead, you see my struggle with your brother and you step in. You and your big, empathic heart. You step in and do the hard thing, to help your mom and your little brother. You step in to make our lives easier.
For ten years you’ve made our world better. For ten years I’ve tried to do right by yours. Thank you for being you. I promise I’ll keep trying to be a better me.
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